Q: At the end of the last billing period, my MSP business ran into some issues. After the invoices were sent out, we got a number of calls from customers asking us to explain or provide details on the cost of our cloud services. I want to make sure we’re on the same page as our customers and don’t surprise them with each bill. How can I simplify the billing process and make it more manageable for myself and my customers?
When we speak to managed service providers, we often hear similar concerns about the billing process. Many IT service providers struggle with how to better articulate the cost and value of their services and avoid confusing their customers. Thankfully, there are several techniques that help MSPs simplify the billing process for themselves and their customers. At Intronis MSP Solutions, they advise Partners to use three particular approaches available within their comprehensive backup platform, the Intronis ECHOplatform.
Here are the three techniques you can use to minimize confusion and make billing easier.
Evaluate your current pricing structure and consider other strategies that might make more sense for your business (and make your life easier). Look for ways to simplify your pricing, especially if customers are confused about what services are included and how to make sense of the price. We suggest creating two or three easy-to-understand packages that you can use across all of your customers.
To maintain transparency with your customer, we recommend using a fixed pricing strategy or another similar type of plan that includes a consistent, flat bill for all of your services. Using this type of plan, you will eliminate any surprises for the customer and maintain your own margins.
It might seem like a given, but we also suggest billing customers on a monthly basis. Some MSPs bill on a quarterly or even yearly basis, which can lead to surprises when customers receive their bill. Billing at a regular monthly cadence will keep the billing process consistent while also allowing for fluctuations in needs and costs over time.
Provide an Executive Summary Report
To demonstrate the value of your services in a concrete way, provide customized reports to each customer. Sending a report along with each monthly bill will help answer your customers’ questions and provide a quick, easy-to-understand update on what’s going on in their IT environment.
These reports should detail key metrics like the number of backups running, completed, and failed. Additionally, you can include their total data usage, completed restores, and note any issues you’ve resolved or potential overages that they should be aware of.
This type of reporting encourages open conversation with your customers, where they can follow-up to learn more about certain details of the report or ask questions about an issue you’ve detected. It also illustrates the value of the services you’re providing your customer, helping them to make more sense of the price.
Intronis Partners now have access to customizable executive summary reports within the Intronis ECHOplatform. Intronis also recently introduced the ability for you to set alerts that you or your customers will receive when they’re approaching their usage limit so you can provide even more real-time updates.
Automate billing using a PSA tool
Many of Intronis’ most successful MSP partners use PSA (Professional Services Automation) tools to streamline their billing process. PSA tools automate the billing process by generating invoices and support tickets for the service provider. By adopting a PSA, you will save time managing support tickets, compiling monthly invoices, and monitoring backup notifications, and you can improve the accuracy of your monthly invoices and eliminate billing errors.
When choosing a PSA tool, you want to make sure it integrates with the other IT service products you’re using, such as your cloud backup solution. At Intronis, they offer integrations with the IT channel’s leading PSA tools, including ConnectWise and Autotask, which allows Partners to quickly access all of their customers’ billing information in a single pane of glass.
Once you’ve implemented these three techniques, you and your customers should have a better idea of what to expect in the monthly bill. Simplifying your pricing, showcasing the value of your services in a regular monthly report, and using a PSA tool to automate the billing process will help you avoid confusion the next time you bill your customers.
Ask an MSP Expert is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between.